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Where do you see yourself five years from now? Or how does this job fit into your career goals?

The purpose of this question is not so much to get a "right" answer as it is to see what you will say. If you answer the real truth, which is, "How the hell do I know?" you'll shoot yourself in the foot. If you answer anything along the lines of, "I have no idea," you're dead in the water, too. If you are too audacious and say something like, "I want be the president of this company," you'll appear foolish.

In the vast majority of cases, it's going to be very difficult for any candidate to be able to predict where he or she will be or what he or she will be doing five years from now. The expansion and contraction of business in the United States doesn't bode well for accurate predictions five years into the future. Unless you were in a very narrow kind of profession where it's fairly easy to predict what you might be doing five years from now, it is safest to say something along the lines of, "Well, I'm not really sure of exactly what kind of position I will have in five years, but my goal is to be performing in a challenging position where my company feels like I'm contributing to its success, taking advantage of every attribute that I have. If I am doing my best and contributing to the best of my ability to the growth of the organization I'm with, my personal growth and advancement will take care of itself. I'm a firm believer in what Lincoln said: 'the harder I work, the luckier I get.' So, I have come to the conclusion that if I do the very best I can every day, push myself to the limit, grow personally and professionally, tomorrow, as well as five years from now, will take care of itself."

If you inherited a lot of money, say $2 or $3 million, what would you do?

This is somewhat of a silly question, but what the interviewer is trying to find out is if you would quit work if you could afford it economically. The answer to any question like this absolutely has to be, "Well, I worked all my life and no matter how much money I might have in the bank, I would foresee continuing to work." No one really knows what he or she would do if inheriting a lot of money, so I admit that this is a silly question. However, the hiring authority is deathly afraid of hiring someone and then having him or her soon quit.

You are awfully young for this position, aren't you? I'm afraid that, in building your career, you would only stay with us for a short period of time.

This is not an illegal question regarding age, unless the candidate is 40 years of age or older. Companies can legally put a minimum age requirement on just about any job except for the age of 40 or older. So, it would be legal for an organization to discriminate and not hire anyone less than, say, 38 years old, but it could not legally discriminate by stipulating that somebody needed to be 42 or older. That would be discriminating against anyone 40 to 42 years of age.

This question has to do with how long a company thinks it might keep you as an employee. It may have to do with your being younger than most of the people in that kind of position, but the major concerns are that you would only be there a short period of time and then leave. The answer to this question is quite simple as long as you remember that the issue is a fear of turnover and your leaving just when you might be contributing your best. So, you say, "I know that I'm a bit young to have accomplished what I have accomplished, but I find that 'maturity' is more an issue of experience and being able to perform then it is one of age. As long as I am contributing to the business endeavor of the organization and personally growing, there is no reason for me to leave."

 
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